Why you need to be more selfish as a parent

You need to be more selfish as a parent if you want good outcomes for your children, a new book by Brighton-based social researcher Matilda Gosling argues.
Matilda Gosling (2023 Shoot Me Now)Matilda Gosling (2023 Shoot Me Now)
Matilda Gosling (2023 Shoot Me Now)

It presents the social evidence supporting a parent-centric/well-being first approach. Evidence-Based Parenting: From Toddler to Pre-Teen (Swift Press, £16.99) is a guidebook on effective parenting, underpinned by contemporary research. It draws directly on more than a thousand studies and indirectly on thousands more to create an “evidence-based reference manual for busy parents.”

Matilda believes that taking a research-based perspective to the distillation of research on child development, psychology and parenting can provide other parents with useful tools and strategies to support their children as they grow.

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A parent of two based in Brighton, Matilda Gosling, aged 44, says she has experienced first-hand the benefits of the research and with it, the power of understanding how much is in your control as a parent.

In her own words, it’s made her a ‘much happier parent’.

“Evidence-Based Parenting summarises the vast body of knowledge on how to support children’s relationships, behaviour, physical health, learning and play, and happiness and well-being in an accessible, practical way. It’s the first time the research has been drawn together in this way.

“The book is significant to me because it’s been the North Star in bringing up my own children. I can be confident in my parenting decisions when I know what the evidence says. It’s been exciting to draw together expertise from so many different sources – I’ve read research papers by biologists, family systems experts, child development specialists, psychologists, sleep researchers and many, many others.

“I think the book will appeal to people because it weaves together evidence and ideas about how to apply it with real-life examples. It’s not about parenting theory – it’s about what works. And it’s a set of ideas, not an instruction manual. Parents know their children best, and having a menu of evidence-based ideas from which to choose will give readers the knowledge and self-belief to know what’s most likely to suit their families.

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“I used to feel overwhelmed at the volume of information about parenting available online –yet when I dug into it, parenting advice was often based on people’s opinions instead of being rooted in evidence. Friends of mine felt similarly. So I decided to apply my professional expertise as a social researcher to find out what actually works when it comes to parenting. It turned into this book.

“My aim is to give a practical, accessible analysis of what parents can do to feel confident in the decisions they make. The book is aimed at busy parents who want to make informed decisions about their parenting. I’ve loved the process of running through different journals to find out what the evidence says. It’s like being a detective – following breadcrumbs in the form of evidence summaries back to original trials and studies.”

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